Kaempfer: The history of Japan

Engelbert Kaempfer (1651–1716) traveled to Russia, Persia, India, South-East Asia, and Japan between 1683 and 1693. His writings were the chief source for European knowledge about Japan: Amœnitatum exoticarum politicophysicomedicarum fasciculi V, published in 1712, is especially important for medical observations and the first extensive description of Japanese plants – and his History of Japan became the chief source of Western knowledge about the country throughout the 18th century.

At Kaempfer’s death, the unpublished manuscripts were purchased by Sir Hans Sloane, and conveyed to England, among them the manuscript for a history of Japan under the title „Heutiges Japan“. Sloan had the manuscript translatied into English by  Johann Caspar Scheuchzer (1702–1729) and published at London, in 2 vols., in 1727. A Dutch translation was published in 1729, a French in 1729 (2 volumes) and 1732 (3 volumes). A German version – translated from the English text, was published in 1777.

Engelbert Kaempfer/John Gaspar Scheuchzer: The history of Japan: giving an account of the antient and present state and government of that empire; of its temples, palaces, castles, and other buildings; Of Its Metals, Minerals, Trees, Plants, Animals, Birds and Fishes; Of The Chronology and Succession of the Emperors, Ecclesiastical and Secular; Of The Original Descent, Religions, Customs, and Manufactures of the Natives, and of their Trade and Commerce with the Dutch and Chinese. Together with a Description of the Kingdom of Siam. Written in High Dutch by Engelbertus Kæmpfer, M. D. Physician to the Dutch Embassy to the Emperor’s Court; and translated from his Original Manuscript, never before printed, by J. G. Scheuchzer, F. R. S. And a Member of the College of Physicians, London. With the Life of the Author and an Introduction. To which is added, part of a journal of a voyage to Japan, made by the English in the Year 1673. Illustrated with many Copper Plates. … (London: Printed for the translator 1727)

  • Digitized
    • e-rara.ch (DOI: 10.3931/e-rara-34751) [both volumes]
    • vol. 1: Internet Archive (Book contributor & digitizing sponsor: Research Library, The Getty Research Institute)
    • vol. 2: Internet Archive (Book contributor & digitizing sponsor: Research Library, The Getty Research Institute)
  • Bibliographic reference: ESTC Citation No. T123496
  • Note: Reprint ed.: (Tokyo 1929) Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln

Engelbert Kaempfer/J. G. Scheuchzer: De beschryving van Japan : behelsende een verhaal van den ouden en tegenwoordigen staat en regeering van dat ryk : van deszelfs tempels, paleysen, kasteelen en andere gebouwen : van deszelfs metalen, mineralen, boomen, planten, dieren, vogelen en visschen : van de tydrekening, en opvolging van de geestelyke en wereldlyke keyzers : vam de oorfprondelyke afstamming, godsdiensten, gewoonten en handwerkselen der inboorllingen, en van hunnen koophandel met de Nederlanders en de Chineesen : Benevens eene beschryving van het koningryk Siam (In ’s Gravenhage: By P. Gosse en J. Neaulme; En t’Amsterdam: By Balthasar Lakeman 1729)

Engelbert Kaempfer/J. G. Scheuchzer: De Beschryving van Japan … benevens eene Beschryving van … Siam. Uyt het hoogduytsche Handschrift … in het Engelsch overgezet door J. G. Scheuchzer … die daar by gevoegt heeft het leven van den Schryver. Met Kopore Platen (Amsterdam: de Jonge 1733)

Engelbert Kaempfer/J. G. Scheuchzer: Histoire naturelle, civile, et ecclésiastique de l’empire du Japon  (chez P. Gosse et J. Neaulme, 1729)

Engelbert Kaempfer/J. G. Scheuchzer: Histoire Naturelle, Civile Et Ecclesiastique De L’Empire Du Japon. Ouvrage enrichi des Plans & des Cartes nécessaires (Amsterdam: Uytwerf 1732)

Engelbert Kaempfer/Christian Wilhelm von Dohm (ed.):  Engelbert Kämpfers weyl. D.M. und hochgräfl. Lippischen Leibmedikus Geschichte und Beschreibung von Japan (Lemgo: Im Verlage der Meyerschen Buchhandlung 1777)

For more on Engelbert Kaempfer’s History of Japan, including a transcription of the manuscript ‚Heutiges Japan‘, details on the manuscript, on Kaempfer’s sources etc. see:

Engelbert Kaempfer: Werke. Kritische Ausgabe in Einzelbänden. Herausgegeben von Detlef Haberland, Wolfgang Michel, Elisabeth Gössmann.
Band I/1 Engelbert Kaempfer: Heutiges Japan. Herausgegeben von Wolfgang Michel und Barend J. Terwiel. Iudicium: München, 2001.
Band I/2 Engelbert Kaempfer: Heutiges Japan. Herausgegeben von Wolfgang Michel und Barend J. Terwiel. Iudicium: München, 2001.
(Detailed TOC | Publisher’s information)

Last update: October 25, 2017, March 19, 2016 October 10, 2015.

1 comment to Kaempfer: The history of Japan

  • Marie-Anne DESTREBECQ

    „Histoire Naturelle, Civile Et Ecclesiastique De L’Empire Du Japon“ digitized available free on „Gallica“, site internet of the B.N.F. (French National Library). P.D.F. (vol. 1, vol. 2) or JPG one page at a time.

Tags